A Powerful Wellness Lesson from Our Past

I had a spectacular conversation with a friend recently. It went roughly like this:

Me: “What’s up Hip-Hop? How are things on the Waterfront?”

Hip-Hop: “Great, man. I love it here. I love the smells of the ocean, the breezes, the people. It reminds of the time I spent in Greece. How are you? What’s new?”

Me: “Well, I have lots of exciting stuff going on. But, first, I really want to ask you about the study published in JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association recently. The one on drugs. Have you read it? (1)”

Hip-Hop: “Oh, the trends in heroin use?”

Me: “No, prescription drugs.”

Hip-Hop: “No, I haven’t seen that one yet. Do tell.”

Me: “This is big, Hip-Hop! They studied prescription drug use here in the United States. In 2000, 51 percent of adults in the United States were on at least one medication. In 2012, it’s up to 59 percent, an eight percent increase in those 12 years!” (1)

Hip-Hop: “Yikes! Something isn’t right; you people aren’t very well.”

Me: “What do you mean ‘you people’? You’re one of us now.”

Hip-Hop: “You know I’m just visiting, brother. I’m content to stay in the spirit world for a while longer and keeping checking out Earth to see what’s going on these days.”

Me: “But you’re still planning to come back, right? You can’t remain a ghost forever.”

Night Walk Man Alleyway Scary Alone Ghost

Hip-Hop: “Yes, like I told you last week, I’m in the process of filling out my reincarnation application, but it’s going to take me a little longer, then I still have to see if I get accepted.”

Me: “Hip-Hop, we need people like you. I’m sure you’re going to get in.”

Hip-Hop: “Thanks for vote of confidence, J. I’m certainly doing my very best.”

Me: “We could use you, and, personally, you know I’d love to spend some time with you in your flesh, so to speak.”

Hip-Hop: “I know. I appreciate your friendship too.”

Me: “So what do you make of this dramatic rise of drug use we’re experiencing? Use of antihypertensives increased from 20 to 27 percent, use of antihyperlipidemics increased from seven to 17 percent (more than double), and use of and antidepressants increased from seven to 13 percent (almost double) in that time.” (1)

Hip-Hop: “What do I make of it? Your hearts are broken for one; the numbers don’t lie. And the ways you’re living aren’t in harmony with nature, so you’re creating all this disease. It’s obvious: You need to take better care of yourselves and one another.”

Me: Yeah. “For sure. That’s what I’m working on, you know. It’s my life’s work.”

Hip-Hop: “Stick with it, brother. Keep facilitating the self-care movement. Help people thrive. You know that’s how it works. People who thrive don’t get sick. Those drugs have their place, of course. It’s how heavily you all are relying on them that’s scary. It’s a canary in a coal mine. Something isn’t right if the rate of drug use is increasing that fast. People really aren’t meeting their needs.”

Me: “It gets worse. One of the other startling results from the study was the increase in polypharmacy.”

Hip-Hop: “That’s a thing?”

Me: “Yeah, it was new to me too. You’re considered polypharmic if you’re on five or more prescription drugs. In the 12-year study period, polypharmacy increased from eight to 15 percent (almost double).” (1)

Hip-Hop: “Yikes, I guess the poly lifestyle isn’t for me. There’s nothing sexy about being on five medications.”

Me: “No, I wouldn’t say so, Hip-Hop, you smart ass.”

Hip-Hop: “So much can be done to prevent disease. It’s all in how you all are living. I see it every day. Even the people here on vacation look stressed. You’ve got to get back to basics. Enjoy moving around, eat from this ocean and this land, get plenty of sleep and rest; you know what I’m talking about.”

Me: “You’re preaching to the choir, Hip-Hop. I’m working on this with everything I have. I’ll be back at it tomorrow.”

Hip-Hop: “I know you will, my friend. I know you will.”

Hip-Hop: “Hey, speaking of living well, we’re getting together for oysters Friday, right?”

Me: “Yeah, you’re on. I can’t wait. Catch you later.”

Hip-Hop: “Catch you later, bro.”

Hip-Hop: “Goot, wait. I forgot; I’ve got a gift for you.”

Me: “Really? I like gifts.”

Hip-Hop: “I made up these t-shirts and I have one for you. Here.”

Me: “Oh, I love it. It’s so you. Thanks, Hip-Hop.”

I put on my new t-shirt right away and headed off empowered by some of my friend’s favorite sayings.

On the front of my new t-shirt, it read:

“Walking is man’s best medicine.” (circa 300 B.C.E.)
–Hippocrates of Kos (“Father of Modern Medicine”)

On the back of my new t-shirt, it read:

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” (circa 300 B.C.E.)
–Hippocrates of Kos (“Father of Modern Medicine”)

(1) Trends in Prescription Drug Use Among Adults in the United States from 1999-2012. JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association, 2015, 314(17), 1,818-1,830.



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